Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Urban hydrogeology: Improved methods for determining the occurrence, transport processes and origin of pharmaceuticals in groundwater resources

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
1.06.07  Natural sciences and mathematics  Geology  Natural resources (mineral and energy raw materials, water) 

Code Science Field
1.05  Natural Sciences  Earth and related Environmental sciences 
Groundwater, groundwater resources, emerging contaminants, pharmaceuticals, NSAID, tracer experiment, lysimeter, gravel unsaturated zone, passive sampling, intergranular aquifer, urban water resources.
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (1)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  35387  PhD Anja Koroša  Geology  Head  2020 - 2022  118 
Organisations (1)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0215  Geological Survey of Slovenia  Ljubljana  5051410000  10,884 
Pharmaceuticals enter the groundwater (GW) as well as drinking water due to various anthropogenic activities on the surface of the aquifer. Among the emerging contaminants (EC) today, pharmaceuticals are one of the most demanding chemical compounds when it comes to understanding their transport within aquifers. The purpose of this research is to improve methods for determining the occurrence, transport processes and origin of pharmaceuticals in GW resources. This will take an innovative approach, which will be achieved by different tools. Special attention will be paid to the study of the dynamic processes of three pharmaceuticals from nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) group in the unsaturated zone (UZ) of coarse gravel aquifer under environmental conditions in field laboratory - lysimeter. On the basis of the multi tracer experiment, with inverse numerical models, we will determine the hydraulic properties of the UZ and the parameters of linear sorption (Kd) and first order degradation constant (µ) and half-life (t1/2) of selected pharmaceuticals. We will use results from tracer experiments on pilot areas of most important drinking GW resources in Slovenia. In pilot areas we will determine the presence of pharmaceuticals and other EC in GW by different sampling methods. For identification of pharmaceuticals and other ECs occurring in low concentrations in water sources, it is the best to combine two approaches. First used will be validated quantitative chemical analysis (grab sampling). Second, we will use passive sampling. Determining the low levels of pharmaceuticals in GW will be achieved by using novel passive samplers with active carbon fibres. They will be used for the non-target screening. For targeted passive sampling, we will use Chemcatcher® devices. In this way we will be able to compare the results of both passive sampling devices and validated quantitative chemical analysis. The outcomes of this task will contribute towards understanding mechanisms and feasibility of passive sampling in evaluating occurrence of pharmaceuticals in GW. Development and comparison of these samplers will feed directly back into performing more reliable passive sampling in GW. Within the framework of the project, we will investigate the entire pathway of the pharmaceuticals through the aquifer, starting from the source, to the transport in the UZ and down to the detection of the pharmaceuticals in GW. By analysing the land use, the data about the number and location of settlements, agricultural holdings, industrial areas, landfills and sewage systems, the anthropogenic activities in the recharge area of each sampling site will be determined. With different statistical analysis (multivariate and geostatistical), inverse numerical (Hydrus 1-D) and spatial (GIS) modelling we will determine link between the occurrence of pharmaceuticals and other ECs in GW, their properties, the source of the pollution, the dynamics of the water and the hydrogeological conditions. We will focus on understanding the processes of migration and degradation of selected pollutants through the aquifer and their presence in urban GW resources. Proposed approach, by integrating the experimental results and detection of GW pollution, has the potential to greatly increase the accuracy of pharmaceutical GW pollution assessment. New knowledge will not only be important for Slovenia but will also allow a comparison with globally available data and fill in knowledge gaps concerning transport of pharmaceuticals in aquifers. This project has numerous elements of novelty, which will stimulate further research in optimization and innovation in an aquifer pollution with pharmaceuticals and other EC. High applicability of this project is shown by collaboration with Slovenian and international research institutions. All have excellent references, the equipment and have successfully completed projects, all of which is a sound support for carrying out the proposed research.
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